At present, America is facing one of the most extensive social and economic crises in its history. The consequences of the pandemic greatly resemble those of the Great Depression in the 1930s, and a large number of people consider that the government should react accordingly by providing effective social policies. This issue is specifically relevant to the vulnerability groups, such as the elderly and children, since, unlike the 1930s crisis, COVID presents a direct danger to people’s health. The current report compares the consequences of the Great Depression and COVID-19, analyzes the government response to both crises, and presents recommendations that might improve the economic and social well-being of Americans today.
COVID and the Great Depression
There is a striking number of similarities between the two crises; however, some differences also persist. Concerning the similarities, the research demonstrates almost identical real GNP/GDP damage at the peak of COVID-19 and the Great Depression (Wheelock, 2020). Furthermore, the unemployment rate shows comparable tendencies as well (Wheelock, 2020). At present, it is complicated to provide a direct comparison of the two crises due to the difference in time frames; however, it is evident that both collapses have long-term effects on American society.
The most notable difference between the two crises is the medical aspect. While the Great Depression was undoubtedly a severe economic recession, the nature of the problem was completely irrelevant to health problems. At the same time, the pandemic has such critical economic consequences, specifically, due to the medical aspect and danger to people’s health (Susskind & Vines, 2020). Therefore, the scope and the context of the two crises differ drastically.
The second difference includes the historical circumstances of social policies. Prior to the Great Depression, private charities had been the major source of help to the poor people, and the interference of government was minimal (Crashcourse, 2016). Social Security and Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC), the two social policies implemented in the New Deal, have provided significant aid to American citizens (Crashcourse, 2016). Therefore, the period of the Great Depression revealed the necessity of social reforms, and at present, the government already follows these principles.
The difference between the social policy approach designates the peculiarities of the government response then and now. In the 1930s, Franklin Roosevelt has drastically changed the previous course of social reforms in favor of the well-being of American citizens (Jansson, 2019). The implemented policies were the first type of a social safety net, and a similar response can be observed during the current collapse (Moffitt & Ziliak, 2020). Social insurance, disability insurance, Medicare, worker compensation, and supplemental security income – all these policies are aimed to relieve the life of American citizens during troubling times (Moffitt & Ziliak, 2020). In this sense, the response to the Great Depression and COVID-19 are similar in nature but differ in the scale and the speed of implementation.
Lastly, concerning personal recommendations, I would suggest that the social policies should emphasize the well-being of the people. Therefore, the response should ensure safety and adequate medical care. Furthermore, it is essential to provide support to vulnerability groups. For instance, if parents have lost their jobs during the pandemic, it is important to grant childcare allowance and child benefit supplements. Ultimately, I believe that the current course of government is appropriate to mitigate the consequences of the pandemic.
The Great Depression and the COVID-19 pandemic are severe crises that negatively affected the social, economic, and psychological well-being of American citizens. However, despite the long-term effects of the two disasters, the scope and context are different. The responses also differ slightly due to the nature of the crises, but the government emphasizes the well-being of the American citizens nonetheless. Lastly, it is possible to introduce additional social policies, such as extra child allowance and supplemental income, to mitigate the consequences of the present crisis.
Crashcourse. (2016). Social policy: Crash course government and politics #49. Web.
Jansson, B. S. (2019). The reluctant welfare state: Engaging history to advance social work practice in contemporary society (9th edition). Cengage Learning.
Moffitt, R. A., & Ziliak, J. P. (2020). COVID-19 and the U.S. safety net. Web.
Susskind, D., & Vines, D. (2020). The economics of the COVID-19 pandemic: An assessment. Oxford Review of Economic Policy, 36, 1-13. Web.
Wheelock, D. C. (2020). Comparing the COVID-19 recession with the Great Depression. Economic Synopses, 39, 1-4. Web.